How is George Clooney's "The Monuments Men" going to shape up this season? Frankly, this "movie" movie is starting to looking like another "Argo," potentially, a middle-ground choice that entertains with a slice of history but has a populist edge to it that will draw in audiences, not just the industry.
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When each season of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" ends, executives at HBO, and fans of the show, wait in earnest for Larry David to decide when or if he wants to make another one. My belief is that the gig is too much fun for David to entirely walk away from, but for 2013 he passed on doing more "Curb" in favor of writing and starring in "Clear History," an HBO film that debuts Saturday night at 9.
Many of you will remember the days when Chad Hartigan was our reliably astute and highly discriminating box office analyst back at the old In Contention site -- we miss him still. But that was then and this is now, and Chad's been making waves on the festival circuit this year with his thoughtful, penetrating second feature "This is Martin Bonner." "'Decency' isn't much of a buzzword in the current, irony-fuelled indie realm," I wrote in my Edinburgh Film Festival review of the two-hander character study, "but 'Martin Bonner' possesses a pure, palpable strain of it from first cleanly composed frame to last."
Matt Damon has managed to stake out a very interesting niche for himself as a filmmaker and actor, and I am constantly impressed at how he manages to pull it off.
By any standards, you have to consider him a major movie star, yet whenever I've had a conversation with him, he's one of the most normal, casual guys I can imagine. Someone like George Clooney has a sort of aura where you are constantly aware of the reactions of everyone around him, where even if he's not trying to turn it on, he creates this ripple just by walking through a room. I honestly believe Damon could get away with relative anonymity if that's what he wanted. He's certainly able to turn up the wattage for the films he's in, but in person, he strikes me more like a dad I'd meet at a Little League practice than a movie star selling a $100-million-plus production.
One thing I've heard repeatedly from people who have worked with Damon is that he's a great collaborator, willing to put the film's needs above his personal needs. There are plenty of actors who will ask for changes that are about their image or their public persona, but Damon seems like much more of a big picture guy, someone whose goal is always to make the film better overall.
A review of tonight's "The Bridge" coming up just as soon as I get the Saran wrap...
It's funny timing, me running a piece last night in which I responded to the accusations by the filmmakers behind "The Lone Ranger" that critics pre-write their reviews of films. I think those guys are doing damage control, playing a shell game of sorts by saying what they said, but the truth is that certain films do make their first appearance already bloodied, targets painted on their backs in vivid red, and there is no doubt that Paul Schrader's "The Canyons" is one of those films.
The opening credits of the film have a haunting quality that I hoped the film as a whole would possess, stationary shots of abandoned theaters, movie palaces that have been left to the elements. But from scene one, there is a dissonance between Paul Schrader's visual work with photographer John DeFazio and the quality of the performances, and I have to confess, the entire thing just made me sad.
To all of you who are Time Warner Cable customers, I want to send you my sympathies (no Showtime? No CBS? What the hell?) and promise I will do my best to unravel the mess that is this night's episode of hamster meltdown. May the CBS app be with you!
We kick things off with Gina Marie reveling in her HoH status, which means she hasn't tried writing her HoH blog just yet. Apparently, this enterprise caused her to weep bitterly, knowing that the general public would discover she's mostly illiterate. If it makes her feel any better, I think we all had an inkling. Anyway, she lures the hamsters she's just insulted into her room as flip-flopping pond scum in order to make nice. She tries to assure Jessie she's not the target, because being the pawn is SO much safer. Gina Marie promises her that her door is always open, as if she's 7-11 or possibly a paid escort. The good news is that, when Gina Marie gets voted out and discovers she's unemployed, she definitely could have a future in customer service.
Amber Tamblyn joins "Two and Half Men" as Charlie's long-lost lesbian daughter
"She’s somewhat of a chip off the old block," Chuck Lorre says of Tamblyn's character Jenny, who shows up in the season premiere.
"CSI" to host a "Cheers" reunion when John Ratzenberger guest-stars
Ratzenberger will get to play opposite Ted Danson in his guest appearance.
Shonda Rhimes' next TV project: A Miami detective drama
ABC is interested in a cop drama about a pair of detectives, one male and one female. PLUS: Rhimes plans to binge-watch "The Wire" soon.
PBS is up dramatically in key 18-34 demo thanks to "Downton" and remixed Mr. Rogers
PBS has been able to attract younger viewers without dumbing down its programming.
An "Exorcist" TV series may be in the works
A drama project based on the book and movie is being shopped around to cable and broadcast networks.
Jordana Spiro joins FX's "Tyrant"
She'll play Justin Kirk's wife on the drama project from the creators of "Homeland."
Jennifer Aniston starred on 4 TV comedies before "Friends"
Here's a look back at her past on such shows as "Ferris Bueller" to the sketch show "The Edge."
Watch another "American Horror Story" tease
"Pins & Needles."
CMT orders "Tattoo Titans" and a reality show for "The Voice's" Cassadee Pope
Also, "Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders" has been renewed.
Will "Sons of Anarchy" have a happy ending?
"No," says Kurt Sutter, "but I do think that there will be something hopeful about the way it ends."
Chelsea Handler learns her grandfather served under Hitler
The comedienne, who is Jewish, learned the news on "Who Do You Think You Are?"
BET facing a transgender discrimination lawsuit from B. Scott
Scott claims he was told to wear men's clothing.
Which "Walking Dead" Season 3 finale scenes were reshot months later?
"Originally, the beating scene that started the episode wasn't there," says Dallas Roberts.
PBS hopes "Superheroes" documentary will woo the Comic-Con crowd
The film about the history of comic book superheroes was promoted today at TCAs.
Check out Zach Gilford & Kiele Sanchez's wedding photos
The "Friday Night Lights" star married "The Glades" star in December.
Goodbye to the groundbreaking "Skins"
The teen drama exited this week after seven seasons.
The best reality shows: Skill-based contests?
Why shows like "Project Runway" have proven superior in the reality genre.
Lucille Ball's "I Love Lucy" dress sells for $168,000
The polka-dotted dress was expected to draw about $60,000.
Watch the trailer for Showtime's "Sunset Strip"
The documentary on Sunset Blvd's rock and roll stretch debuts Aug. 16.
BBC America's "Broadchurch" is terrific, but are viewers starting to experience "murder fatigue"?
The eight-part drama about the murder of a child, which begins tonight, is reminiscent of recent shows like "The Killing" and "The Bridge." PLUS: "Broadchurch" is perfect -- the anti-"Killing."
Looking over the past few months, you might think the summer surprise of 2013 was the critical and box office success of "The Conjuring." Not really. All corners of the industry knew that Warner Bros. release was a hit in the making after early screenings started the buzz in the spring. It wasn't the word of mouth success for "Fruitvale" either. That award-winning drama had a passionate following out of Sundance in January. And the disappointments of "Lone Ranger," "White House Down," "After Earth,""Turbo" or "R.I.P.D."? Um, yeah. Personally, I'm kicking myself for not going to Vegas to put money down on how those movies would perform months ago. No, the surprise this summer is, hands down, "Blue Jasmine."
MTV really did threaten to cut Daft Punk from VMAs if the band appeared on "Colbert"
Thanks to the MTV threats, Daft Punk pulled out of its "Colbert Report" on Monday, reports the NY Times, which details the "intense" negotiations between Comedy Central and MTV, both of which are owned by Viacom.
"Duck Dynasty" stars to make their acting debut on "Last Man Standing"
Si and Willie Robertson will appear in the season premiere.
"Mindy Project" nabs Glenn Howerton
The "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" star will woo Mindy.
Tom Sizemore joins "The Red Road" on Sundance Channel
He'll co-star with Julianne Nicholson in a drama about a cop and his family.
One of the things that was immediately apparent when I saw "District 9" for the first time is that Neill Blomkamp has a fantastic eye for detail. Everything about that movie is in service of selling the reality, and when I recently rewatched it, I found myself repeatedly laughing at the tactile sense of place that Blomkamp's films evoke.
In "Elysium," it's even more critical that environment serve as storyteller, and the decision to shoot in real Mexican dumps, using those to double as Los Angeles, is both bold and slightly terrifying. I can't imagine the stress of taking a movie star as well known as Matt Damon to a location shoot in a place where kidnapping is an industry, and there's no way I would have been able to stop thinking about John Wayne's health problems after shooting "The Conqueror" as I was running around that dump amidst toxic materials and wind machines. When you see how it all reads on film, though, Blomkamp made the right call. It doesn't feel like a set, like something put together by a production designer, but instead feels like what it is, a monument of human waste, built over time.
For whatever reason, a lot of elements have combined lately to make me think of Terrence Malick's "Badlands." It's never an unwelcome thought, of course: Malick's debut feature, which somewhat unbelievably celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, remains his coolest and crispest work. That's not necessarily to say it's his best, but this portrait of a kid couple's Midwestern massacre retains a bare, bony lyricism that cuts as close today as it must have in 1973; it's at once his oldest and youngest film.